Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom

There are some compelling things about the SAP Digital Boardroom and I’ve shared some observations from recent partner training on the SAP Community Network.

Last month, I attended the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Pre-Sales Workshop at SAP’s Vancouver, BC office (see related SCN article). Approximately two dozen pre-sales professionals from various North American partners received intensive training on how to use SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. We also received a tour of the SAP Digital Boardroom, which is built on SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (which in turn is built on the SAP HANA Cloud platform, or HCP).

There are some compelling things about the SAP Digital Boardroom and I’ve shared some observations from the partner training on the SAP Community Network.

Read Thoughts on the SAP Digital Boardroom on the SAP Community Network.

Celebrate the Small Stuff Along the Road to BI Maturity

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

My son recently finished kindergarten, his first year of public education. His mother and I were invited, along with the other parents, to a special end-of-year party to celebrate.

I learned from my son’s kindergarten teacher the importance of celebrating small steps of progress. There are lessons here for business intelligence teams and I’ve written some observations in the Business Intelligence Community on the SAP Community Network.

Wherever your organization is on its business intelligence journey, I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate success whenever and wherever it happens.

Read Celebrate the Small Stuff Along the Road to BI Maturity on the SAP Community Network.

The Business Intelligence Barista Promise

Love your business intelligence or let us know. We’ll always make it right.

The Starbucks Barista Promise, written on nearly every Starbucks cup, asks us to “Love your beverage or let us know. We’ll always make it right.”

StarbucksBaristaPromise500

 

What would happen if we put “Love your business intelligence or let us know. We’ll always make it right.” on our work?

My Opinion (and Yours) about Fact-Based Decisions

A single version of the truth that we can all disagree about.

Yesterday was election day in the United States. We elect our House of Representatives every two years. Senate terms are 6 years, so there’s only a handful of 100 seats up for grabs during any election cycle. There are basically two facts in the election outcome: Republicans extending their majority in the House with 243 seats and taking leadership in the Senate with 52 seats.

2014 US Election Results Washington Post
image courtesy The Washington Post

But there are a variety of opinions. Search through various media sources and you can find an analysis piece that meshes with your core beliefs. Liberal or conservative. Republican or Democrat. American or not. Fan of President Obama or otherwise. We’ve got you covered.

In the analytics industry, we’re frequently reminded by our tool vendors how awful it could be that users might show up to a meeting and argue over different sets of facts, especially with the current batch of “data discovery” tools that allow users to (gasp) analyze numbers that may not have come from the enterprise data warehouse. But an election is proof that you can have a single version of the truth- the vote counts- and still have an endless buffet of opinions about what the election results mean and what will or should happen next.

This phenomenon is not limited to politics. Perhaps your organization’s sales are up. Perhaps they’re not. Maybe that new product is beating sales expectations. Maybe it isn’t. Even if the facts aren’t in dispute, there may not be consensus on the next steps for leadership to take. We’re all human. And we all excel at making any set of facts fit our perception of reality, whether true or not. We’ll see what we want to see.

In the US government, we have “checks and balances” that allow a diverse set of voices to forge the (often messy) path forward. May it be so in our own organizations.

Food for thought.

 

Meet Me at Starbucks

What can we learn from Starbucks’ first global ad campaign?

Starbucks Cup with Dallas Name 500

Last week, Starbucks launched its first global ad campaign, “Meet Me at Starbucks”. Shot over a 24-hour period in 40 Starbucks stores across 28 countries, it reminds me of Apple’s “shot around the world in one day” commercial, 1.24.14. The 30-second and 60-second spots cull footage from longer documentaries that you can watch on Starbuck’s special “Meet Me” web site. The ads illuminate the human interactions that occur daily at the “third place” Starbucks creates between our “first place” of home and our “second place” of work.

 

In my recent ASUG presentation, Secrets of a Business Intelligence Barista, I made the case for integrating the Starbucks customer experience into our Business Intelligence Competency Centers.

The business intelligence competency center is a third place between the cubicle and corporate IT that provides a collaborative environment to solve business challenges and align execution to organizational strategy.

I’m a realist- “Meet Me at the Business Intelligence Competency Center” isn’t going to generate the same emotional response that Starbucks has achieved with their new campaign. But I’m also an idealist. Solving business problems with data? That’s something that can be life-changing for the people we serve.

Some of our business intelligence consumers are gregarious. Some are cantankerous. But as you begin your week today, look beyond the crisis of the moment. Look beyond the technology. Take a moment to make the human connection.

What’s your reaction to Starbucks’ new campaign?

9.9.2014

Today is a big day for tech news.

On September 9, 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. Today, SAP Mentor and my friend and co-worker Greg Myers will appear on a #askSAP webcast for the first time alongside SAP’s Jayne Landry, Ty Miller, and Blair Wheadon. Big news is also expected from Apple and Tableau.

Sounds like a good day to take a long lunch. At a place with great wi-fi bandwidth.

Blackberry (remember them?) isn’t jumping on the September 9th bandwagon, but will have its own See The Bigger Picture event (giant phones?) on September 24.

Land and Expand

Expanding user adoption by learning from the experts.

Land and Expand binoculars and mapMuch has been made of the “land and expand” sales strategies of data discovery vendors Tableau and Qlik. First, “land” a single license of desktop software in the middle of a data-starved organization like accounting. Then “expand” by selling additional desktop licenses to curious co-workers, eventually spreading to multiple departments then roping in IT to adopt a server or cloud-based solution. Beautiful.

But did you know that it’s possible to use a land and expand strategy with your existing enterprise BI solution?

This article won’t help you decide if your organization should invest in data discovery tools. But I hope it will provide inspiration and ideas for extracting additional value from existing investments. Here are some practical ways that your Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) can increase user adoption of existing enterprise business intelligence.

Make it Easy to Get Started

Take a look at the homepages of SAP Lumira, Qlik, and Tableau. Go ahead— take a look. I’ll wait.

Did you see how easy it is to download the software? All three vendors provide a “free download” link in the top right corner of their web sites. You can achieve the same goal by creating or enhancing a BICC portal on your corporate intranet such as Microsoft SharePoint. There are typically two tasks users must accomplish:

  • granting BI platform access to an existing user’s ID
  • installing any client software such as the Web Intelligence Rich Client, Live Office, or Analysis for Microsoft Office

Many organizations have been reluctant to distribute desktop software such as the Web Intelligence Rich Client. But as its name indicates, it is a richer experience (without the annoying Java warnings, too). Whether a software installation is requested by a service ticket or downloaded from a server, be sure to provide easy-to-follow instructions for getting software on your BICC portal.

Give Away Free Samples

The second thing that data discovery vendors do really well is provide sample content. Make sure that all users (for SAP BI, the Everyone group) can access a folder of curated sample content. Ideally, this sample content should use corporate universes but could also use eFashion. Make sure that the samples are generic (don’t reveal sensitive information) and perform quickly by using only small data sets.

Give Away Free Tutorials

Data discovery tools typically feature free tutorials that can be accessed from inside the software itself or from the company web site. But using inexpensive tools such as tools such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow, you can go one step further by creating tutorials that use your organization’s data instead of sample data. SAP has done a fantastic job of describing how to create free tutorials— just look at their Learn BI web site for inspiration.

Your BICC portal should also include one or more pages that list the universes or BEx queries available in the BI platform. In addition to the semantic layer name, include a brief description (cut and paste from the universe parameters), the business user point of contact, the technical point of contact, and directions for requesting access to the information.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the SAP Learn BI site. Don’t be afraid to start small and build out a larger set of tutorials.

Give Away Free Webinars

In addition to static tutorials, hold repeating monthly or quarterly webinars. Check out this tweet from Qlik.

 

You should certainly record webinars and post the “best” one to your BICC portal. But I would encourage you to routinely (perhaps quarterly?) give live webinars because it’s a way to make the human connection with your user community. Their questions will provide valuable insight into how you can continuously improve your training materials, universes, and standard reports. Share presentation responsibilities throughout the BICC giving everyone on the team an opportunity to refine their presentation skills, even if they only handle 5 or 10 minutes of a larger presentation.

Be sure to collect data from your attendees such as name, department, job title and email address. Follow up with a quick email thanking them for their participation.

Reach Out to First-Time Casual Users

If you’ve ever downloaded a free version of a data discovery tool, you’ve seen the vendor’s CRM back-end in action. Via automation and an inside sales force, users who have downloaded the software are periodically contacted, asked if they need help, and reminded of free resources. Being able to cross-reference a user ID to an email address or phone number is key here. New users can also be identified by studying access requests submitted to the help desk.

Know Your Influencers

Desktop data discovery tools succeed not only because they create valuable content, but the person using it becomes a passionate evangelist for the product. In most organizations, these folks are known as “power users” and are sometimes noted as such in the BI security structure. However, just being labeled a power user doesn’t necessarily mean that you are one. Look for users that create and share a large amount of content. Because power users tend to push boundaries, it can also be helpful to look at the number and type of service requests users submit to the help desk.

Monitor Key Metrics and Refine Strategy

In all cases, user activity generates data. Data can be refined into key metrics. And key metrics can be monitored to refine BICC strategy. Look for insight from the SAP BusinessObjects auditor database, usage metrics from your BICC portal, usage metrics from a self-service download site or document management system, and help desk tickets. All of these sources are capable of providing data, but most will need additional additional refinement to reveal insights. Try to budget projects around these untapped data sources as part of your BICC’s annual planning.

Does it take too long to gain access to the enterprise BI platform? Does Brenda take too long to approve access requests? Is installing software a help desk fiasco? Address pain points and continually refine your BICC strategy.

Conclusion

Does your organization need a data discovery tool? Maybe.

Does your organization already own a data discovery tool due to the land-and-expand vigilance of their vendors? Highly likely.

Is there still untapped potential in your existing enterprise business intelligence platform? A distinct possibility.

I hope this article has given you some ideas to tap that latent potential.  Some of these topics are explored in my 2010 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference presentations, KPIs for Business Intelligence.